How to Select a Welder Certificate Program near Shelby Alabama
Enrolling in the ideal welder vocational school near Shelby AL is an essential first step to beginning your new career as a professional welder. But since there are a lot of schools to choose from, how do you determine which ones to consider? And more notably, once you have narrowed down your alternatives, how do you pick the right one? Most people start by reviewing the schools that are nearest to their homes. Once they have identified those that are within driving distance, they gravitate toward the least costly one. Yes, location and the cost of tuition are crucial concerns when examining welder vocational schools, but they are not the only ones. Other factors include such things as reputation, accreditation and job placement rates. So before initiating your search for a vocational school to become a welder, it’s sensible to develop a list of qualifications that your chosen school must have. But before we examine our due diligence checklist, let’s cover a little bit about how to become a welder.
Welding Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options to obtain training as a welder in a trade or technical school. You can receive a diploma, a certificate or an Associate Degree. Bachelor Degrees are available in Welding Engineering or Welding Technology, but are more advanced courses than most journeyman welders will need. Some programs are also offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Below are brief summaries of the most typical welding programs available in the Shelby AL.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are normally made available by technical and trade schools and require about a year to finish. They are more hands-on training in scope, designed primarily to teach welding skills. They can furnish a good foundation for a new journeyman or apprentice welder, or additional skills for experienced welders.
- Associate Degree Programs will take 2 years to finish and are usually offered by community colleges. An Associate Degree in Welding Technology furnishes a more well-rounded education than the diploma or certificate while still providing the foundation that readies students to enter the workforce.
Many states and municipalities do have licensing prerequisites for welders, so don’t forget to find out for your location of potential employment. If needed, the welding school you choose should prep you for any licensing exams that you will need to take in addition to providing the appropriate training to become a professional welder.
Welding Certification Choices
There are several organizations that provide welder certifications, which evaluate the skill level and knowledge of those applying. A large number of Shelby AL employers not only require a degree or certificate from an accredited welding school, but also certification from a renowned agency such as the American Welding Society (AWS). Different certifications are available dependent on the type of work that the welder performs. Just some of the skills that certification can acknowledge are the welder’s ability to
- Operate in compliance with specific codes
- Work with certain metal thicknesses
- Work with specific kinds of welds
- Work according to contract specifications
As already stated, various cities, states or local municipalities have licensing requirements for welders. Of those mandating licensing, a number additionally require certification for various kinds of work. Certification is also a way to demonstrate to employers that you are an extremely skilled and knowledgeable welder. So just as with licensing, look into the requirements for your location and make sure that the welding tech school you select preps you for certification as needed.
How to Decide on a Welder Trade School
As soon as you have decided on the credential you want to earn, a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to assess schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of welding vocational and trade schools in the Shelby AL area. That’s why it’s essential to determine in advance what qualifications your selected school must have. We have already discussed a couple of important ones that many people look at first, which are location and the cost of tuition. As stated, although they are essential qualifiers, they are not the only ones that should be considered. After all, the school you pick is going to provide the instruction that will be the foundation of your new profession as a welder. So following are some additional factors you might want to evaluate before selecting a welding technical school.
Accreditation. It’s very important that the welding vocational school you pick is accredited by either a national or a regional organization. There are 2 basic types of accreditation. The school may earn Institutional Accreditation based on all of their programs. Programmatic Accreditation is based on an individual program the school offers, for example Welding Technology. So make certain that the program you select is accredited, not just the school itself. Additionally, the accreditation should be by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, the accreditation might also help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Shelby AL for non-accredited schools. Also, for those states or local governments that require licensing, they may require that the welder training program be accredited as well.
Job Placement and Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of welding certificate or degree programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program. Various other schools will assist in placing you in a job or an apprenticeship after graduation. Find out if the schools you are looking at assist in placing students in apprenticeships or have a job placement program. These schools should have relationships with local unions and various metal working businesses to which they can refer their students. Older schools may have a larger network of graduates that they can utilize for placements. These programs can assist students in finding employment and establish relationships within the Shelby AL welding community.
Completion and Job Placement Rates. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students that enroll in an academic program and complete it. It’s important that the welder school you pick has a high completion rate. A low rate may mean that the students who joined the program were unhappy with the training, the instructors, or the facilities, and quit. The job placement rate is also an indication of the caliber of training. A higher job placement rate will not only confirm that the program has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Shelby AL employer relationships to help students secure employment or apprenticeships after graduation.
Modern Facilities and Equipment. Once you have narrowed down your selection of welder programs to 2 or 3 options, you should think out going to the campuses to evaluate their facilities. Confirm that both the equipment and the facilities that you will be trained on are up-to-date. In particular, the training equipment should be similar to what you will be using on the job. If you are not sure what to look for, and are currently in an apprenticeship program, ask the master welder you are working under for guidance. If not, ask a local Shelby AL welding professional if they can give you some tips.
School Location. Although we previously briefly covered the significance of location, there are a couple of additional points that we need to deal with. You should bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the welder school you pick must be within commuting distance of your Shelby AL home. If you do decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation expenses there could be higher tuition fees for out-of-state residents. This is especially true for welding certificate programs offered by community colleges. Also, if the school offers an apprenticeship or job placement program, often their placements are within the school’s regional community. So the location of the school needs to be in a region or state where you ultimately will desire to work.
Smaller Classes. One-on-one instruction is essential for a hands-on trade such as welding. It’s possible to be lost in larger classes and not obtain much individualized instruction. Find out what the average class size is for the welder programs you are looking at. Inquire if you can attend a few classes so that you can observe just how much individual attention the students are getting. While there, speak with some of the students and get their opinions. Similarly, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their welding experience has been and what certifications and credentials they hold.
Flexible Class Scheduling. Many people learn a new profession while still working at their current job. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are considering are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Shelby AL, make certain that the schools you are assessing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you decide on offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make up classes if you you miss any due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Will You Be Attending Welding School Near Shelby AL?
Perhaps you live in the Shelby Alabama area, or have decided to enroll in a Welding Program that has a campus near there. In either case, you may find this bit of history both interesting and informative.
Shelby County, Alabama
Shelby County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census the population was 195,085. The county seat is Columbiana. The county is named in honor of Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky from 1792 to 1796 and again from 1812 to 1816.
Shelby County was established on February 7, 1818, and it was named for the Revolutionary War hero and the first Governor of Kentucky, Isaac Shelby. Beginning in 1820, the first county seat was located at Shelbyville. This settlement, long defunct, was located within the modern city limits of Pelham. The first courthouse was built of logs. The seat was moved to Columbia, now Columbiana, in 1826. Initially housed in an old school building, a new brick courthouse building was completed in 1854. It is now known as the Old Shelby County Courthouse and houses the Shelby County Museum and Archives. The current limestone courthouse was built from 1905–06, at a cost of $300,000.
Shelby County was the home of an early inland waterway, the Coosa River, and it was also the location of a very early east-west railroad in Alabama that connected Atlanta, Georgia, with locations to its west. Shelby County was also crossed by an early north-south railroad, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, that connected Louisville, Nashville, Decatur, Birmingham, and Montgomery.
Online Welding Certificate and Degree Programs
Welding is truly a hands-on kind of trade, and consequently not very suitable for online training. Having said that, there are some online welding classes offered by specific community colleges and trade schools in the greater Shelby AL area that may be credited toward a degree or certificate program. These classes mainly deal with such subjects as reading blueprints, safety,, and metallurgy. They can help give a novice a basis to start their training and education. Nevertheless, the most significant point is that you can’t learn how to weld or use welding materials unless you actually do it. Naturally that can’t be performed online. These skills must be learned in an on-campus setting or in an apprenticeship. Online or distance learning is better suited for seasoned welders that would like to advance their expertise or perhaps attain a more advanced degree. So if you should come across an online welding certificate or degree program, be very cautious and make certain that the bulk of the training is done on campus or in a workshop type of setting.
Pick the Right Welding Tech Program Shelby AL
Choosing the right welder training program will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare among the programs you are considering. It’s a necessity that any welding training program that you are examining includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own welding machine to train on. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program provides different possibilities for certification as well. Probably The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and faculty. Take the time to monitor some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you choose is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end result will be a new career as a professional welder in Shelby AL.
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